Ben’s 31-Day Challenge: Man vs Ice

Ben’s 31-Day Challenge: Man vs Ice

Ben Tansley was riding home on his motorbike with his son, Jude, along the country lanes of Norfolk when another bike hit from behind. They crashed and both Ben and Jude were thrown off. Jude was fine, but Ben suffered life-changing injuries.

He was rushed to hospital and into a 10-hour operation to help fix his broken back and damaged spinal cord. The next day, Ben was on a morphine drip with a long, uncertain road of recovery ahead. After days in intensive care, he took the brave decision to have the morphine drip removed. He knew how addictive morphine could be and refused to let his body become reliant on it, and somehow found a way to cope with the pain.

Ben believes everything happens for a reason and would rather be the one in a wheelchair rather than his son. He started documenting his recovery on Instagram to show the power of a positive mindset, and how life goes on, even after the horror of what he’s been through.

Fast forward 6 years and he’s standing and walking with crutches. He says “I owe it all to positivity and hard graft, it’s a continuous journey of hiccups and setbacks but I keep proving them wrong and making the most of each day.”

Ben started reading about the healing power of cold water immersion and the growing science that supports its potency in affecting the nervous system and its use in physical recovery when a friend recommended his own ice bath. Ben lives near a lake and so started dipping to see if it could help.

He was hooked, and wanted to take his cold water immersion journey to the next level. That’s when he reached out to Brass Monkey. Together we hatched an experiment to see how the cold could help Ben’s recovery. We challenged him to dip every day in December in one of our Ice Baths.

He was nervous. Would he be able to do it? Would it hurt? Would it even help?

On day one, there was snow on the ground. Standing outside in his back garden next to a bath full of water set at just two degrees. With a nervy smile on his face, he climbed in. A quick head dunk woke him up to the size of the challenge ahead. But if anyone is game for a challenge, it’s Ben Tansley.

On day 8 the mental battle set in. Pausing and stalling at the edge of the bath, knowing what waited for him in the water. He learned how important having the right mindset is, and that you have the power to change it, even when your brain is telling you not to climb in. “I feel so good after that. And now the highs are setting in.” That’ll have been the 250% hike in dopamine (the reward hormone) that’s released every time you dip, Ben!

The first day he really didn’t want to get in came on Day 17. He set his alarm for 6am, got up late and he didn’t face the ice until 11am. He hoped the water would finally kick start his day and give him the focus he needed. “Such a mental thing this is. if your head's not in it, it's hard work. If your head's in it, it’s light work.” He didn’t enjoy the two minutes, but he said it was “easy” – showing how much he’d already adapted, and he was ready for the guaranteed feel-good that was about to hit.

Next, Ben took the plunge and moved down to zero degrees. It hurt, but he still managed 3 minutes – again showing what his mind and body had become capable of. Mind over matter. As Ben put it, “That’s the same with everything in life, you know, some things we can't change. But if you can change your mindset to, like, being paralysed, then you can conquer it and overcome pretty much anything. You know, we just have to accept situations, learn to adapt, and just that thought process, whatever it is you're going through however you feel about life you know, adapt your mindset and everything will be okay.”

On the last day, Ben looked so calm in the water. The nervous body language seems to have melted away compared to that first frosty morning. “It is c-old! But the difference from the first day of doing this. Crazy how much your body adapts. How much you learn to love the bath and appreciate the benefits.”

Safe to say, Ben was completely converted by the cold and has become a huge advocate of cold water immersion. We’re sending a huge thanks to Ben for sharing his journey with us and for trusting us with his story.

If you want to explore the science behind “the buzz” that Ben talks about throughout his videos, then head to the Brass Monkey Journal, where you’ll find loads of information on what’s going on inside your body when you hit the cold.


Ben Tansley vs Brass Monkey ice baths